8 Ways a Supervisor Can Improve Your Interiorscape Business

Why does supervisor begins with “super?” Because you expect them to do it all!  Am I right? You know I am. So let them do it. I’m talking to all you owners out there now. If your supervisor spends all their time servicing, you’re not getting your money’s worth.

Here are 8 ways a supervisor can improve your business (and one quick secret to making it happen).

1. Training

This comes first, of course. If you hire only one employee, let that one be an experienced supervisor. When you expand and hire another technician, let the supervisor train them. Explain what you need, what you want, what you like, and then work with the supervisor to develop a training program.  When techs are thoroughly trained your replacement rate goes down and client satisfaction goes up. Your job is to make sure supervisors have time to do the training. In other words, someone else needs to do service.

2. Quality Control

This may be the single most important job for the supervisor. Someone needs to be out there on a daily basis making sure the accounts are beautiful. Quality control feeds back into the ongoing aspect of training. The supervisor should be identifying a technician’s weak spots and working with them to improve. Quality control and supervisor visibility also nurtures client satisfaction – and we all know it’s many times easier and less costly to keep an old customer than find a new one. Your job is to make sure the supervisor is out there on the accounts every day nurturing your good name.

3. Client Relations

No customers means no business, right?  Supervisors are visiting the accounts to check on the plants, but also to develop the relationships with clients that can preserve accounts. We’ve all seen times when something goes wrong, but because the client likes and trusts you or your representative, they forgive you. The other side of the coin is your hard earned account goes to a rival company only because the client never saw any management. Your job is to protect your investment by keeping your clients happy.

4. Planning Service Meetings

Meetings should not waste your plant technicians’ valuable time. You and your supervisor can use weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly meetings to pass on company information, promote camaraderie, and convey other important information. The result is more efficient and better trained technicians, more retained accounts, and employees that stick with you. Your job is to enable the smooth operation of all the parts of your company.

5. Routing

RoutingSupervisors are best equipped to plan service routes. They not only know how much time to allot for travel from one account to the next but also how long it will take to complete each account’s tasks. I’ve seen companies where the managers, who rarely went into the field, tried to do all the routing. Besides taking several times longer than it needed to, the routes still needed to be changed when the technicians received them. Let your supervisors handle routing. Your job is to see that things are done in the most efficient way, ego trips aside.

6. Ordering & Inventory Management

Supervisors stay in touch with your plant techs on a daily basis. They are in the know when it comes to upcoming projects and current inventory levels. Task your supervisors with inventory and ordering management to make sure your techs have the equipment and supplies they need to complete jobs.

7. Extras

  • Recruiting: Supervisors are out there talking to people all the time. If you have a hiring need, perhaps your supervisor has a recommendation.
  • Interviewing: Consider the value of peer-to-peer interviewing. Interviewees are more likely to show their true colors when interviewed by a peer. Supervisors feel important when involved in the job selection process and are excited to help choose their future co-workers.
  • Mediation: Management views supervisors as part of the service team while techs view supervisors as part of the management team. As such, they can act as translators for both groups.

8. Service

Please note that service is at the end of the list. Using a supervisor to fill in for a sick plant tech for a couple of days is almost irresistible. Unfortunately, that can quickly turn into doing the entire route when a tech leaves the company and taking on new accounts because there aren’t enough techs available. This leaves your supervisor no time for quality control checks and you can completely forget about them conducting any training. Before you know it, you’ve got a supervisor who spends all their time running around putting out fires (when they’re not servicing) caused by techs who don’t know what they’re doing because they’ve never been trained. Your job is to do everything you can to give your supervisor the opportunity to be super, not just a super-tech.

The Secret

One way to help your supervisors remain super is to hire a “rover.”  If you’re starting a business, this should probably be the next person hired after the supervisor. The rover knows all aspects of the business and fills in wherever there is need. The rover can cover for an absent tech, take over routes when a tech leaves, service new accounts until scheduling can be rearranged and new people hired. The rover can complete installs. They can handle specialized pesticide application, construction, mechanics, and just about anything else that is thrown their way. Hiring a rover not only allows your supervisor to focus on being completely super, it also help your business to maximize efficiency and profits. We can talk more about rovers next time.

Marlie Graves, known as The Ficus Wrangler, has been keeping plants beautiful, training techs and relating to clients at half a dozen companies for 30 years. She studied creative writing and psychology in college and went on to start an independent film company with her first husband. She decided to focus on plants full time after completing the NYBG Horticulture School interior landscaping course. Marlie is retired, operates "The Ficus Wrangler" YouTube channel, contributes regularly to several houseplant forums, and is working on a plantcare book based on professional methods.

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